Merit-Based Visas: EB-1A & National Interest Waiver

Anyone who can demonstrate that they have achieved a certain level of success and recognition in their respective field may qualify for a merit-based visa. These include that EB-1A visa and the National Interest Waiver, neither of which require sponsorship from an employer.

Anyone who can demonstrate that they have achieved a certain level of success and recognition in their respective field may qualify for a merit-based visa. These include that EB-1A visa and the National Interest Waiver, neither of which require sponsorship from an employer

EB-1A

The extraordinary ability category (Employment Based 1st Preference – i.e. EB-1A) requires an applicant to prove that they have risen to the top of their field and attained sustained acclaim. This is the highest level of visa classification and USCIS looks very closely to determine that you have received or been nominated for a major industry award or meet at least 3 of the ten “alternate” criteria.

You must meet 3 out of the 10 listed criteria below to prove extraordinary ability in your field:
  • Evidence of receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence
  • Evidence of your membership in associations in the field which demand outstanding achievement of their members
  • Evidence of published material about you in professional or major trade publications or other major media
  • Evidence that you have been asked to judge the work of others, either individually or on a panel
  • Evidence of your original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field
  • Evidence of your authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media
  • Evidence that your work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases
  • Evidence of your performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations
  • Evidence that you command a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field
  • Evidence of your commercial successes in the performing arts
Examples of Documentary Evidence That A Person is an Outstanding Professor Or Researcher
  • Evidence of receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement
  • Evidence of membership in associations that require their members to demonstrate outstanding achievement
  • Evidence of published material in professional publications written by others about the alien's work in the academic field
  • Evidence of participation, either on a panel or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or allied academic field
  • Evidence of original scientific or scholarly research contributions in the field
  • Evidence of authorship of scholarly books or articles (in scholarly journals with international circulation) in the field
National Interest Waiver

The National Interest Waiver category (NIW) requires proof that your work is of “substantial merit” and “national importance” and that you will be coming to the U.S. to continue the type of work you have been doing overseas, ensuring it continues to constitute “substantial merit” and “national importance”.

With NIW status, the emphasis is on the work an applicant is conducting as we must demonstrate that it is of “substantial merit” and “national importance.” In addition, it must be shown that the applicants “prospective endeavor” in the U.S. is so important that using the traditional route of filing a labor application would be detrimental to at least a segment of the U.S. population. Although the applicant is not required to have an employer sponsor for NIW classification, we need to demonstrate the clear possibility of prospective U.S. work in the applicants area of endeavor and it is in fact preferable that the applicant have a substantive employment scenario lined up (it need not, however, be a traditional employment arrangement).

At the center of an NIW petition is the nature of the “proposed endeavor” an applicant will undertake upon the approval of your permanent residence application. As requirements for legal immigration become more stringent, the “proposed endeavor” in the U.S. is becoming increasingly more important; it is the “centerpiece” of the NIW petition. To successfully prepare an applicant’s petition, we require a detailed description of the professional activities that an applicant will prospectively perform upon entering the United States as a U.S. permanent resident, together with a detailed explanation of why this role would be considered important to various industries in the United States.

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